April and the Importance of Reinforcement

Well March came and went.

Just like that.

Crap! Q1 is over with! I’m three months into my experiment! Yikes!

First things first, let’s review how March went. My goal was to rest more and better. Here’s how it went down in China town. (Is that offensive?)

1. Set a bedtime. I DID set a bedtime. I actually STUCK to said bedtime about 80%. When I had a couple of late nights in a row, I got sick. I never get sick, so I was pretty upset by that. Case in point, I should go to bed earlier. But what I did do was get in the habit of going to bed around 10pm on the weeknights. This is earlier than usual and the consistency was great. I’ll definitely keep that up.

2. Establish a bedtime routine.  Here’s some craziness for you… I was doing really well with my bedtime routine for the first two weeks of the month. In about week 3, I started getting lazy and skipped it for a couple of nights, in favor of just going to bed sooner. Guess what? On those nights, I had a real heck of time falling asleep. That leads me to believe that… IT WORKS! The bedtime routine works. I’m convinced. I still was only about 60% for the second half of the month (it was, in general, a lazy couple of weeks) but it’s something I want to keep working on. 

3. Power down. Ugh. I mentioned mid-month that I sucked at this. And I continued to suck. I don’t know what to do, but I definitely have not yet conquered my nighttime iPhone addiction. I think this is the first goal I’ve set that I’ve actually failed. *Wail of despair.*

4. Take 10 minutes a day to breathe deeply. This has be h-e-l-p-f-u-l! (Helpful). Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply is wonderfully relaxing. I have transformed my morning commute into a peaceful breathing session, and I’m convinced it has helped me manage my stress throughout the day.

March has been my month of least compliance. I think this was for a couple of reasons: 1. I spent part of the month just feeling really lazy. 2. My laziness led me to get sick. 3. My sickness led to more laziness. and 4. Nighttime is a tough time to break habits (or create new ones) in because I’m always trying to do so much stuff leading up to it.

Which brings me to April.

Let’s take a moment to discuss change. I work in the field of change. Seriously, I work in change management – go ahead and Google it, I’ll wait. It’s legit. We study how business can make more successful changes from a people perspective. This translates immensely well into my personal life. In my work, we talk about reinforcement a lot. The idea is, of course, that if you go through all this work to actually make a change, you have to have reinforcements of the change in place for it to be sustained. Without reinforcements, you’re very likely to revert to your old habits, because they are so engrained. Can you think about a time when you’ve made a change without sufficient reinforcement and you ended up back where you started? Yeah, I can too. Lots of times.

Henceforth, I’m going to make April a month of reinforcement. I’ve made 15 goals so far this year. The ones that were really impactful have definitely carried forward. However, I think if I don’t take some time to revisit them, refocus on them, and reinforce the changes, they won’t stick long term. Below is a list of all the goals I’ve made so far. I’m not going to try to reinforce all 15 this month because, frankly, that’s too many and I’m puposefully letting a few go, at least for the time being. There were a few that naturally fell off, and a couple that I’d like to revisit again, but maybe in their own month. Those in bold are the ones I will work on reinforcing this month.

1. Eat a crap-ton of green vegetables – at least 5 servings a day.

2. Drink water – 80 oz. of water a day. Note, I’ve been just drinking ad lib, and I think it’s working for me just fine.

3. Supplement for detoxing. I will be changing this to just consistently take my basic supplements, which I’ve been lax on of late.

4. Green tea instead of coffee. 

5. Estrogen detox. Finished this, it helped, but doesn’t need to continue.

6. Limit toxic intake. I’m not refocusing on this because I’ve done so much to remove the toxins from my personal care products. The next iteration of this will probably include things like cleaning products, but that warrants a new month. 

7. Walk 10,000 steps per day. This is a goal I’d like to tackle again, in a separate month. It’s going to need more dedication than I can give this month.

8. Set performance based goals. I set goals in February. This month, I need to assign timelines to them.

9. Strength train three times per week, and Crossfit two times per week. This has morphed into Crossfit 3x/week, with an optional bonus day of lifting or Crossfit.

10. Convert my desk to a standing desk, and learn to stand at work. This is happening! No need to refocus on it because, well, I’m doing it! 

11. Fine-tune my gym movements and further perfect my Olympic lifting technique. I have another snatch session scheduled next weekend. Let the inappropriate comments ensue. 

12. Set a bedtime. Going for 90% compliance in April!

13. Establish a bedtime routine. The routine has been established, I’m shooting for 90% compliance in April, especially on the weekends, when I tend to skip it the most. 

14. Power down. Will. Keep. Trying. 

15. Take 10 minutes a day to breathe deeply. Life doesn’t appear to be getting any less stressful any time soon. Thus, the breathing should continue. Any suggestions for lovely, calming music to listen to on the morning commute? 

The whole list for this month looks like this: 

1. Eat a crap-ton of green vegetables – at least 5 servings a day

2. Consistently take basic supplements

3. Green tea instead of coffee

4. Assign timelines to my performance-based goals and stakes (more to come)

5. Crossfit 3x/week, with an optional bonus day of lifting or Crossfit

6. Perfect my Olympic lifting technique

7. Go to bed by 10pm on weeknights, 12am on weekends – 90% compliance (27 out of 30 days)

8. Complete bedtime routine every night, especially on weekends – 90% compliance (27 out of 30 days)

9. Power down in the hour before sleep

10. Take 10 minutes a day to breathe deeply 

An even 10 goals. I didn’t even plan it that way! I think I can do it. I’m really looking forward to April. You know what they say: “April reinforcement brings May PR’s.”

Oh is that not how it goes?

2 thoughts on “April and the Importance of Reinforcement

  1. This is essentially why I’m repeating the Whole30… to reinforce the good eating habits! I like that you’re taking a month to revisit your previous goals.

    I have an addiction to my phone before bed as well. Or I’ll be type type typing away on my laptop. I need to change this. I do like to read for a few minutes in bed, but sometimes I feel like it’s already late and I should really just turn off the light as soon as possible. 10 pm would be nice… my bed time is typically between 1030 and 11, but that extra 30 minutes would put me closer to 8 hours of sleep! Something to strive for.

    • Yeah, 10pm seems to be the sweet spot for me bedtime-wise. If I sleep from 10pm-6am, I feel better than if I sleep from 11pm-7am. Weird huh?

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